Friday, December 14, 2012

Letting go

Luke is quickly approaching his 2nd birthday and I can already see the "terrible" and the "terrific" emerging.  I have noticed that people watch me when Luke is crying on the floor as if to say "Why don't you pick him up?  He's crying!  He has Down syndrome!  He doesn't know what he's doing!"  Slow down, I want to say.  He knows EXACTLY what he is doing.  That cry?  That is because I took that piece of paper away from him.  That rolling and fussing on the floor?  That's because I just put a hat on him and he doesn't want to wear it.  He may not speak yet, but don't let that fool you.  He is an almost-two-year-old who is throwing fits when he doesn't get his way, just like all other almost-two-year-olds do.

I remember the best advice I got when I was pregnant. It was, of course, from my own mother. She said, "Don't ever get too comfortable. As soon as you have entered one phase and feel like you have it figured out, a new one will begin." (Or something close to that) What I love, and despise, about this advice is that it is true for the phases that are frustrating (kids that won't sleep, or eat the food you want them to), but it also holds true for the phases that you love and want to hold onto forever (rocking your baby to sleep, or a cute bear crawl).

Luke is taking more and more steps every day, and has no problem pushing me away if he doesn't want help or getting between me and a toy if he wants to do it himself.  I love his fierce independence and I know it is going to serve him well as he continues to grow.  As usual, it's not going to be Luke that has a problem letting go, it's going to be me.

We are quickly approaching a very new phase for our family.  Kindergarten. 

Yes, I realize you all read the post about how Gwen and Colin are going to Kinderhaus together and how great it was to see them heading off to school together.  That was all true and wonderful while it lasted, but like all phases, it was over as quickly as it began.  It has nothing to do with these two siblings getting along, and it has everything to do with the different needs of my 3 year old and my 6 year old.

So ... in the spirit of letting go, I had to look at Gwen and realize that she was ready for a different adventure.


We are enjoying the advent season of preparing for Christmas.  This is one season that can't be rushed, even if you try.  The kids want to take down 2 numbers on the advent calendar, but I have to explain that Christmas won't come any sooner by doing that.  It is a season of waiting and anticipating.

One of our favorite traditions that began when we moved to Decorah was cutting our own Christmas tree.  The first year it was FREEZING cold and snowy, and I was pregnant with Luke.  The second year it was freezing rain and also freezing cold.  This year was perfect.  Not too cold.  No snow, although I would have preferred to trudge through at least a few inches of snowy white!  The kids enjoyed helping Daddy carry the saw and would have pulled the tree themselves if it hadn't been SO big and heavy!  And for the record, no, it did not fit easily in our house.  It never looks that big until you are looking at your front door ;)  One year we will get it right!
Pictures from the past:
December 2010 - Kids are 2 and 4, and I am 8 months pregnant with Luke
 Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


When Luke was born I wondered when someone I knew would have a child with Down syndrome. It was sort of a strange, selfish wish really. It wasn't that I wanted someone else to go through the pain and struggles of those first few days, weeks ... it was that I was excited to share the joy that came out of those times.  I want to welcome to the world two little boys born with an extra chromosome in the past 2 months. I am so proud to know you and your parents, and I can't wait to share the joys and struggles that are present in this journey.


I love being outside in autumn.  I love it so much that my house gets really messy and nothing gets done inside because I know that soon I will have all the inside time I need or want.  Last summer Luke was stationary.  This summer ... well, he is mobile and loves to eat dirt, or rocks, or sticks, or anything else that is within reach.  That has made out outdoor time a little more exciting this summer. 

Today I was not feeling well and yet, as you parents know, our job doesn't stop just because we are under the weather.  After attempted naps that did not happen and Tylenol that did not work, we went outside.  I was pretty sure that Luke would start putting things in his mouth and we would have to go in, but instead he discovered the leaves.  He crawled up the hill to the backyard and found a little spot right next to the woods and just grabbed leaves and threw them up in the air over and over.  Not once did he try to eat them  :)  Progress!!
My only regret was not catching the beautiful smiles that were quick and brief as the the leaves fell down on him.
While Luke entertained himself with the leaves, Gwen and Colin worked hard at shucking beans from the garden.  They had fun finding all the different colors of beans in the drab and dried out pods.
Get outside and into a tree before it gets cold!
On Saturday, October 6th, we will be participating in the Step Up for Down Syndrome walk in La Crosse, Wisconsin.  We have been involved with the local organization, Children of the Heart, since Luke was born.  If you live in the area we would LOVE to have you walk with us. 
If you are interested in donating to Luke's team - here is the link.  
Fundraising is not my forte - but in this case I see it as a way to give back to an organization that has been an invaluable resource to our family for the past 20 months. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

A new year (school that is!)

When Gwen was 2 years old I read the complete Winnie-The-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner books to her. I thought I had read them before, but as I read each chapter aloud, I realized I only thought I knew all the stories. It wasn't an easy book to read aloud, and even harder to keep a 2-year-old interested with the difficult language and winding thoughts of Pooh and his friends. And yet, I enjoyed reading it to her and she enjoyed listening to it, or at least she enjoyed the special time we spent reading together on the twin mattress tucked into the corner of her tiny bedroom of our home in Mason City. It was a simple time. One child to care for. One child to read to. One child to put all my efforts into. Sometimes I long for that time with my boys. I try desperately to get quiet, alone time with Colin and Luke, but it's just harder. Now I realize how special those years were with Gwenyth.

As we worked our way through the book I looked forward to reading the next adventure of Pooh and Piglet. I found myself loving the characters as if I were a child again. So, when the ending came, I was unprepared. I had read the book with a child-like mind, until the last chapter when I was snapped back to adulthood. I tried to keep myself together as I read the last chapter, but the tears flowed and a very confused 2-year-old couldn't understand why Mama was crying over Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin.  I will let you read the chapter for yourself as you send your own children off to school for the first time...

A week ago Gwenyth and Colin started their year at Kinderhaus. It will be Gwen's 3rd and final year there, and Colin's 1st year. I struggled with the decision of education this year. When I stand back and look at it, it is a decision of privilege. We were choosing between a wonderful public kindergarten or a wonderful outdoor multi-age preschool. Wow. There are parents in this world that would give up most anything to have one of those two options, and here I am with two.

Well, right up until Kinderhaus began I questioned if I had made the right decision. I felt strongly that they should go to Kinderhaus together, and yet as I talked to other parents I wondered if Gwen should have gone to Kindergarten, or if I should have kept Colin home one more year, or if I should have sent him for 4 mornings instead of 2. So many choices, and so many different opinions! I had to stand back and look at my family, my children and myself to make the final decision.

The answer because crystal clear the first morning they attended Kinderhaus together. Watching them work together and look forward to spending time together made my Mama heart smile!

Gwen checked Colin's backpack to make sure he had his water bottle and rain pants. She helped him pick out his clothes and get all his outdoor gear on. She told him all about what the day would be like and said over and over "It's going to be SO fun!!"

Once we arrived at Kinderhaus she lead the way to put their backpacks away and later she told me that she even asked the teachers to move his "cookie" (a flat stump to sit on for circle time and snack) next to hers during snack time.

I'm sure there will be days where they argue over who gets to hang up their backpack first, or who gets to tell me about the day, or any other number of small things that are blown up into the world's most important moment in the eyes of a child. While those moments will try my patience and I will think longingly about that first day, I know that these memories will stay with them for a lifetime.

So - we say goodbye to another summer and hello to the schedule and rhythm of the school year.

It's going to be good. 


Sunday, June 24, 2012

We're more alike than different

We're more alike than different ...

Luke and Colin

I couldn't resist sharing these photos together. 
I hope you all had a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Perpetual Motion

Well... here I am again trying to catch up!  In an attempt to accept life as it is, I am not going to apologize.  It is real life, and it's busy. 

Today Gwenyth and I went Strawberry Picking.  She was a great helper and we picked over 24 pounds of berries!  The rest of the day was spent making jam and freezing berries to use over the coming year.  As I hauled my pressure canner and jars up from the basement, I realized the season of preserving has just begun.  The canner will now live on my stove until the last jar of applesauce is processed in late fall.  From now until then it will be perpetual motion in the kitchen.  It is the season where kids are both welcomed into the kitchen to mash berries for jam, as well as shooed away when the stove has four burners going and hot liquid in every pot.

Today I realized I will have a new challenge.  His name is Luke.  Luke has developed a path through the house I like to call his "Path of Destruction."  It starts in the sunroom, which is also his bedroom, and ends at the top of the stairs.  This path consists of everything Luke has figured out he can do from point A to point B.  And I'll give you a clue, none of them involve toys.  Instead, it involves opening drawers, turning on the water to the bathtub, pulling the toilet paper off the roll, putting his hands in the toilet and splashing, unfolding laundry, banging cupboard cabinets in the kitchen (over and over and over!), and his favorite, eating any paper products that are on the floor along the way.  If it is made of paper, cardboard, or any related material, it will be chewed on.  This kid has ruined more board books than the other two combined!  His favorite place to pull up is by the stove and his favorite cupboard to open and close is right next to the oven...

This could get interesting.

Luke is now almost 17 months old and continues to amaze us every day.  He may not look like he is 17 months old, but don't let that fool you!  He loves to stand up in the middle of the room and then look around as if to say, "Yeah, I'm doin' it.  No big deal."  Sometimes he can stand there for 20 seconds and other times he falls down as soon as he gets up. He can cruise along furniture, and does a mean bear crawl that gets him anywhere he wants to go.  He doesn't have any official words yet, but he has signed "more," "all done," and "dog," at different times.  His main goal is to be in the middle of the action.  This guy makes sure he is not left out!

Here is a photo recap of the past couple of months.  There does happen to be a big hole in my pictures.  The kids and I have spent hours in, and around, the garden and I have no pictures to prove it!  I will be sure and fix that over the next couple of weeks.

Easter in Strawberry Point

Apple and pear trees for our backyard. 

Luke's new favorites: Hats and the Piano

Mother's Day

Last day of Kinderhaus with cousin Gabe

Gwen's 6th Birthday

Now We Are Six - A.A. Milne

When I was one I had just begun
When I was two I was nearly new

When I was three I was hardly me
When I was four I was not much more

When I was five I was just alive
But now I am six, I'm as clever as clever;

So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.